You might not be as capable as Rodin or Michelangelo in sculpted works of art, but you can sculpt your body into a lean, mean machine with toned and defined muscles. Just as there is more than one way to skin a cat -- not that anyone would want to do so -- there's more than one way to sculpt your body. Three months of strength training or three months of triathlon training will do the trick. In addition to looking good, you'll feel good as well, since sculpting programs produce major health benefits.
Benefits of Body-Sculpting Programs
Body-sculpting programs have health benefits that go beyond improving muscle tone and overall buffness. This is especially true when body sculpting is combined with a good diet and aerobic activity, as most programs recommend. You'll strengthen your bones, increase your energy level and resistance to disease, and lower your risk of injuries. As MayoClinic.com explains, any form of strength training, which is at the core of every body-sculpting program, protects your joints and improves your balance. It also helps you manage some chronic conditions, such as arthritis, more effectively.
12-Week Body Sculpting Programs
The premise of body-sculpting programs for women is simple: Lift heavy and challenging weights to gain muscle. But don't worry about big muscles. Women don't have sufficient testosterone to bulk up; instead, you'll develop a toned and shapely body. During the first month of a typical 12-week body-sculpting program, you'll strength train four days per week; for example, working the upper body on Monday and Thursday and lower body on Tuesday and Friday. The goal is to do eight to 12 reps of each exercise, which include bench presses, barbell or dumbbell curls, squats, deadlifts, calf raises and incline crunches. The second month, you'll increase the weights to a point where you can do only six to eight reps. The third month, you'll lift even heavier weights that take you to failure after four to six reps. This is the most challenging month, but you'll see accelerated results as well. Using good form when you lift is critical.
12-Week Triathlon Training
As the Women's Health website notes, triathletes tend to have lean legs, flat abs and sculpted arms. That's because triathlon training focuses on both endurance and resistance training -- swimming uses the water as a resistance element. "Triathlon training is very balanced," says Seattle triathlete coach Leslie Mettler. "It's a whole-body training." As a result, you'll sculpt your body, lose weight and strengthen your heart during the 12-week training program for a sprint triathlon. The workouts are relatively easy the first month and then increase in intensity. You'll start out running an easy 20 minutes, biking an easy 30 to 40 minutes and swimming 25 meters 10 to 16 times with a 20-second break in between laps. Eventually you'll add interval training and bricks -- back-to-back bike rides followed by runs. That will prepare you for the triathlon itself, when you dismount from the bike and begin to run on legs that feel like jelly.
"Eat clean if you want to get lean," says ShapeFit.com, in an article about sculpting your body for beach season. Translation: Eat smart but, whatever you do, don't adopt highly restrictive diets or starve yourself. The World of Diets' 12-week sculpting program also stresses the need for good nutrition in order to obtain your goals. Focus on lean proteins, such as skinless chicken or turkey. Keep dairy consumption to a minimum. Consume lots of raw or steamed green vegetables. Choose healthy fats such as avocados and olive oil. Drink plenty of water throughout the day and especially after workouts. A sports drink can replenish carbs and electrolytes you lose during a vigorous workout.
- MayoClinic.com: Strength Training: Get Stronger, Leaner, Healthier
- 12 Weeks to Your Hottest Body Ever; Derek Charlebois & Marc Lobliner
- Women's Health: You Can Be a Triathlete
- ShapeFit.com: How to Get Beach Body Ready for Summer
- World of Diets: Metabolic Masterpiece -- A 12 Week Body Sculpting Process
Jim Thomas has been a freelance writer since 1978. He wrote a book about professional golfers and has written magazine articles about sports, politics, legal issues, travel and business for national and Northwest publications. He received a Juris Doctor from Duke Law School and a Bachelor of Science in political science from Whitman College.